An increase in home sale prices has led to a jump in property assessed valuations for many northeast Indiana homeowners.

About 75% of homes in DeKalb County saw an assessment increase for taxes payable in 2020, according to DeKalb County Assessor Sheila Stonebraker.

Approximately 74% of LaGrange County’s homes increased in value for 2019-pay-2020 taxes, said LaGrange County Assessor Pat Monroe.

In Noble County, 84% of homes increased in assessed value, Assessor Ben Castle reported.

For 2019 assessments, 81% of the homes in Steuben County saw an increase in assessed value, said assessor Kim Anderson.

“Changes in residential assessments in DeKalb County, and every other Indiana county, are attributable to several things,” Stonebraker said.

“First, new construction and remodels will result in assessment increases.

“Second, DeKalb County reassesses 25% of the residential parcels each year. Site visits during cyclical reassessment result in changes to physical characteristics that may result in an assessment increase.

“Third, the county also trends assessments each year based on valid sales of properties. As sales prices increase, so too do the resulting assessments. These studies are conducted at the neighborhood level to identify market conditions. This can result in assessment increases or decreases or even no changes to assessments.”

Castle attributed the assessment increases in Noble County primarily to a robust housing market.

“In determining value, the assessor is required to compare assessments to the sale prices of homes on the open market and adjust those assessments to 100% of market value,” Castle said.

“It is common for assessments of all property types to change, as market activity is the gauge by which assessments are measured,” Stonebraker said.

Castle explained ”trending” is the term used by assessors to describe a statewide, statutorily required process of using sale prices of properties that sell on the open market to adjust assessed values.

“Trending is an annual process that is completed by the assessor and reviewed by the Department of Local Government Finance before assessments are finalized each year,” he added.

“The State of Indiana uses a market-based assessment system. Annual adjustments, or trending, is the application of current market trends to particular areas or neighborhoods. Open market, arm’s-length transactions of sold properties are used to create adjustments to assessments as the real estate markets fluctuates. These adjustments are positive (increasing) in LaGrange County because of the strong real estate market,” Monroe said.

Stonebraker said the average increase in DeKalb County residential assessments was 3% for taxes payable in 2020, compared to a 4% increase the prior year. In Noble County, the average increase was 4%, Castle said.

“The average increase last year, under a different assessor, was a net average change of zero,” Castle added.

The average increase in home values for 2019 assessments in LaGrange County was 2%, compared to 3% for 2018 assessments, Monroe said.

In Steuben County, the average increase in residential home assessments was 3%, Anderson reported, compared to 2% last year.

Stonebraker explained a taxpayer has 45 days from the notice of assessment to file an appeal. She said there are 30,689 parcels in DeKalb County, and for the 2019 assessment year, DeKalb County received about 190 appeals.

“This is in line with previous years, as DeKalb typically receives between 175 and 200 appeals each year,” Stonebraker said. “While several taxpayers visited our office to inquire about the process and their own assessments, relatively few file appeals once they have a better understanding of how their individual assessments were determined.”

For 2019, Noble County received 229 appeals of all property types, Castle said.

“This represents less than 1% of the total number of parcels (26,206),” Castle noted. “In the last three years, Noble County has averaged approximately 400 appeals each year.”

For 2019 assessments, Steuben County had approximately 281 appeals, compared to more than 330 appeals for 2018 assessments, Anderson said.

“LaGrange County had 116 appeals amongst all property types for the 2019 assessments out of 26,935 parcels,” Monroe said. “The number of appeals for the 2019 assessment year is almost the same as the number of appeals filed annually in the county for the past several years.”

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